Dalal's third unbeaten century in vain

Stenhousemuir v Greenock 1st XI
WDCU Premiership One
Saturday 10th June 2023

Stenhousemuir 292 for 6 D Rossouw 109, P Hamilton 47, Z Smith 41
Greenock 1st XI 182 R Dalal 111*; D Hollis 3 for 37

DLS Par Score 293


The 1st XI suffered a sixth defeat from their first seven Western Premiership One league matches against Stenhousemuir at Larbert on Saturday. It was a meeting of the top two teams from last season's First Division and it ended with the champions comfortably defeating the runners-up despite a third century in four league matches from Rahul Dalal.

The pre-match toss of the coin was a hugely important moment on a very warm afternoon with the wicket and outfield at The Tryst ground baked hard and likely to favour the batting side. Unfortunately captain Greg McDougall got the call wrong and home captain Nicky Rodgers quickly chose to bat first.

Stenny's opening batsmen Peter Hamilton and Zander Smith gave the home side the best possible start by scoring at a fast pace and had posted fifty on the scoreboard by midway through the ninth over.

The team got a little boost in the eleventh over when Greg McDougall made a second change to the bowling line-up. He brought himself on to bowl and the decision provided a very quick return, after just five balls, with the wicket of Zander Smith caught by Rahul Dalal for 41 with score on 71.

It was but a momentary respite as Stenhousemuir continued to score quickly.

A second wicket was captured in the fifteenth over when Dennico Hollis was caught off the bowling of Dalal having scored just 3 runs. But that just brought the homesters South African high scoring pro Danie Rossouw to the crease.

Roussouw and Hamilton had only a short stay together out in the middle as Dalal picked up his second wicket, and the team's third wicket, when Hamilton (47) gave Shailesh Prabhu a catch at backward point with the score on 114.

The task then was to remove Rossouw quickly and work through the remainder of Stenny's batting line-up. But the task proved too much as Rossouw was in fine form and well supported by others in the home side's batting line-up.

An eighty run partnership for the fourth wicket between Rossouw and Izaz put the Larbert side into a very healthy position. Rossouw was the major contributor with his batting partner scoring just 26 runs before falling to a good catch by Usman Mansoor off the bowling of Aryan Sanghera in the 37th over.

With thirteen overs remaining and 194 runs already on the scoreboard with six wickets in hand, the Stirlingshire side could see the opportunity for a very high score by the end of their 50 over innings.

So it proved, as Rossouw stroked his way to a fine century before being dismissed in the second last over for 109. He was out caught by wicket-keeper Lukas Fischer-Keogh off the bowling of Gregor Chambers.

At the end of the innings, Stenhousemuir had reached 292 for the loss of six wickets. This huge score set the team the mammoth task of scoring at an average of six runs per over for the duration of their innings to achieve the win.

After the tea interval, the run chase needed a sound start to the innings. Instead the side lost opener Shailesh Prabhu to a run out at the start of the fourth over and then number three batsman Cammy Calder was clean bowled by South African amateur Zander Smith midway through the sixth over.

Once again much then depended on Rahul Dalal and he delivered for a third time in four matches. Along with Tom Polkinghorne, 44 runs were added to stabilise the side after the loss of the two early wickets. However, the young Aussie was bowled by Raza for 26 in the fifteenth over.

Then a fourth wicket partnership with Lukas Fischer-Keogh took the team to 114 at which point Fischer-Keogh was bowled by Raza for 12 runs.

Dalal and Gregor Chambers (11) had a 46 run partnership for the fifth wicket. But by then 39 overs had been bowled and the team had fallen far behind the required run-rate. With 160 runs showing on the scoreboard, that left the team needing 133 runs from the remaining eleven overs, and a run-rate of 12 per over. An unlikely task.

By midway through the 43rd over, they had lost a further four wickets and the unlikely chase had become impossible. Two overs later it was all over as they were bowled out for 182.

The one real bright spot in the innings was an unbeaten 111 scored by Dalal. Had the pro received greater support from others in the side then there would have been a possibility of overcoming the large Stenhousemuir total. But after a long afternoon in the field, in the hot sunshine, in reality few sides would have been up to that task.

As the 1st XI seek to move up the Western Premiership One table and into a position of safety, they do need to find a top order combination which can see off opponents' opening bowlers and set the side on a positive route forward in the innings.

Next up is a match against Stirling County at Glenpark on Saturday when a good start to the innings could be the key to a much needed win.